He has been an institution in Queensland, the father of not only the Brisbane Broncos but the whole of Queensland Rugby League. Possibly the most influential figure in Queensland Rugby League behind only Wally Lewis, Wayne Bennett will leave the Broncos at the end of 2008 as the club looks to take a fresh approach.
Holding the reigns at the Broncos since their inception in 1988 – Wayne Bennett love him or hate him, has been a highly successful coach. His record stands at 6 premierships; 1992, 1993, 1997 (Super League), 1998, 2000 and 2006. Very few coaches could boast such success, his approach to Rugby LeagueÂ has centredÂ around a close bond with his immediate playing squad, a good eye for talent and an iron curtain around the whole operation – keeping things close to his chest and letting few into the inner-sanctum.
Loathed by many sections of the media, Wayne Bennett rarely gives interviews and when forced to talk to the press he general gives one word answers and will do his utmost to frustrate and distance anyone trying to question him. While the Broncos have stood strongly behind Wayne Bennett in the past, his old fashioned personality has probably hurt the club much more than helped it at times and the power brokers at the Broncos realise the highly successful club must move in a different direction to ensure future continued success.
It seems the unthinkable deal that Wayne Bennett was plotting with the Sydney Roosters was ultimately his undoing. Speculation was rife, that a Bennett confidant let the cat out of the bag too early – ultimately killing the super deal that would have seen Bennett relocate to Sydney and take over from Ricky Stuart at the Roosters in 2007. When the deal turned bad, the Broncos obviously lost a tonne of respect for Bennett and have been seeking out a future coach ever since.
It’s unknown who will take over from Wayne Bennett at the Broncos, but their obvious target as been Craig Bellamy. Bellamy has been a relevation since leaving the Broncos assistant coaching post and setting up shop with the Storm, grabbing his maiden Premiership during NRL 2007 and building a world beating Rugby League side.
It could also be a case of ‘Back to the Future’ for the Broncos, after Bennett fell out with his support staff in 2005 – the likes of Gary Belcher, Kevin Walters and Glen Lazarus were booted from the Broncos; but the talented former playersÂ could be a chance of returning in some capacity with the Bennett dynasty soon to be dismantled.
The only question now is how willÂ the Broncos side perform in 2008?Â History has shown us that players tend to relax under a coach they know will be moving on the following year and things such as player recruitment and re-signing becomes a major problem until the future successor is named.
It willÂ certainly be a differentÂ feeling seeing a Bennett-less Broncos and one that will take some adjusting. It certainly seems like the right move for both club and coach,Â such a long marriage was bound to see one or the other looking for greener pastures. A fresher and more dynamic approach from the Broncos could not only see them continue winning on the field, but could open up their supporter base to a whole new rangeÂ of members – people who actually like to see or hear from their coach regularly to know what is happening with their team.Â